Federal Judge OKs Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” Law

Luke Witman September 6, 2012 0

By Luke Witman
Examiner | examiner.com 

An outcome many have dreaded for the past two years seems finally poised to arrive for many in Arizona, as the controversial “Show Me Your Papers” provision of SB 1070 could go into effect any day now.

On Wednesday, September 5th, federal appeals court judge Susan Bolton issued her long awaited ruling  on the provision, arguing that she could not block the provision based only on the fact that it promotes racial profiling. She cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling on the issue as the basis for her decision. Bolton was in fact that judge who first issued the injunction against SB 1070, a decision which had made her a hero among immigrant and human rights activists.

Now, it will likely be only a matter of days before “Show Me Your Papers” finally goes into effect in the state. Under the embattled provision, state and local law enforcement officers will be tasked with determining the legal residency status of anyone stopped during routine police work. Anyone who can not provide proof that they are in this country legally will be held in police custody until they are able to do so.

Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer’s response to Bolton’s ruling was predictably overjoyed. “I applaud the federal court for siding with the U.S. Supreme Court in refusing to block the most critical section of this law,” she said in a written statement.

Critics of the latest decision, however, point out that when it goes into effect the “Show Me Your Papers” provision will inevitably promote racial profiling by law enforcement officers.

“[SB 1070 is] a matter of real concern…because it will cause real problems with racial profiling and illegal detention,” said Omar Jadwat a representative for the ACLU, the organization responsible for filing suit against the law. “The courts have made very clear that additional challenges are available once the law goes into effect and we are certainly going to pursue all of the options available to us.”

One thing that remains unclear about the law is whether or not law enforcement officers across the state will be required to enforce it to the same degree. Several prominent member of Pima County’s law enforcement community, for example, have publicly expressed skepticism that it is even possible to put into effect the “Show Me Your Papers” provision. Tucson’s Chief of Police Roberto Villaseñor stated that his office arrests around 36,000 individuals each year for minor offenses. Currently these individuals are not taken into custody. If “Show Me Your Papers” goes into effect, a large number of these individuals will have to be held in jails, severely overburdening the system.